Merle Christensen, 91, of Mount Vernon, passed away peacefully at home on March 28, 2013. Her last two days had been full of expressions of love and admiration by her family, and then she said, "I need to go now", and left. She was such a classy lady.
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Merle was born in Seattle on July 19, 1921, to Ival Vern and Hattie Clyde Evans. She lived in Edmonds for 60 years & went to Edmonds High School where she accompanied the orchestra as a fine pianist. In 1938 she met the love of her life, Orland M. Christensen, the "new kid from Ballard" and new first violinist in the orchestra. He graduated in 1938 and she in 1939; both went on to the University of Washington.
Upon graduation Orland and Merle were married on June 19, 1942, and moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked at MIT in the radiology lab during World War II. After the birth of their first child they moved back to the Seattle area. Orland then completed law school at the UW and went to work as a patent attorney, settling down in Edmonds to raise their three children.
They were very active in the Edmonds United Methodist Church with Merle serving as President of the Women's Society for several years. She was a member of Edmonds Coterie and the Edmonds Music and Art Association, serving both in a myriad of officer positions. Her mother, Hattie, introduced her to the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and she discovered she was a direct descendant of Daniel Boone - the children loved that.
In 1964 as Seattle Opera was being formed, Orland and Merle became ardent supporters and were part of the first group of season subscribers. They would have been celebrating their 50 years of support as Seattle Opera celebrates its 50th Anniversary with the 2013-14season. Their passion for opera was lived every day as they continually invited others to experience it and introduced their three children as youngsters.
After Orland died in 1984, Merle continued her activities with Seattle Opera as a Trustee on the Board and with the Guild became a proponent of Opera in the Schools so young children would be introduced to this all-encompassing art form. In 1999 she was presented with the prestigious "Award of Distinction" by the Seattle Opera Guild in honor of all her work and accomplishments for Seattle Opera.
Merle was one of the founders of the Creative Retirement Institute in partnership with the Edmonds Community College as she was a firm believer in life-long learning. She also served on the Stevens Hospital Board. In 1986 she joined several of her friends in P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) and made many new ones.
She loved to travel and took many trips abroad to various countries and cultures. She loved her country, too, and went to almost every state in the union with her family or with friends. Riding horses was a special joy to her. She spent many summer days riding in the Cascades and some summer vacations with the family at a dude ranch in Montana. She especially loved dude ranching in the winter in Arizona and last rode a horse when she was 87!!
When she moved full-time to Mount Vernon in 1996, to be close to her children, her son, Scott, convinced her to buy the 40 acres behind his property so they could go into the blueberry and raspberry business together. She had her older son, Dale, build her the cottage on the property, using the plans she and Orland had designed as a retirement home.
At home she often could be found with bookmarks in several books at a time, or out in the garden planting or weeding with her beloved Labrador by her side. You could always find her out walking her dog in the morning and again in the evening just in time to enjoy the changing sky.
Merle was predeceased by her parents, Ival and Hattie, her brother Donald Evans, and her beloved husband Orland.
She is survived by her children, Martha "Marti" Wall (Daniel), Dale Christensen, and Scott Christensen (Christine) all of Mount Vernon; her grandchildren and their families Korie Holmes (Jody), Cheryl Willsey (Brandon), Jennifer Trulson (Dave), Jason Wall, Lisa Butters (John), Justin Crouch, Paul Christensen (Tracie), and Cara Mazer (Justin); and numerous great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister-in-law Ruth Evans, and a cousin Eugenia Kline, as well as nieces and nephews.
To honor and celebrate Merle there will be a service on Saturday, April 20th at 11am at First United Methodist Church in Mount Vernon with a reception following in Sprague Hall.
Remembrances in Merle's name can be made to the Seattle Opera Association, or to the Mount Vernon First United Methodist Church Endowment Fund.
Published in Skagit Valley Herald Publishing Company on Apr. 10, 2013